Corneal nerves: Anatomy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


The cornea is the most richly innervated surface tissue in the body. It receives a dense sensory innervation from the trigeminal ganglion and, in some species, a modest autonomic innervation. The architectural organization of the corneal innervation is, excepting minor details, remarkably similar in all mammals and comprises five main levels of organization: penetrating stromal nerve bundles, anterior stromal plexus, subepithelial plexus, subbasal nerve plexus, and intraepithelial nerve terminals. The nerves fibers are neurochemically complex and individual axons contain one or more of a dozen different neuropeptides and neurotransmitters, some of which exert important trophic functions. Corneal subbasal nerves are dynamic structures and undergo continuous elongation and terminal rearrangement under normal physiologic conditions. Corneal nerves are injured in many types of corneal surgery and are capable of limited regeneration; however, the process is slow and imperfect and, in most cases, is insufficient to return the corneal innervation completely to its preoperative density and architectural configuration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of the Eye
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780123742032
ISBN (Print)9780123741981
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


  • Corneal sensitivity
  • Dry eye
  • Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK)
  • Nerve growth factor (NGF)
  • Neuropeptides, cornea
  • Penetrating keratoplasty
  • Refractive surgery
  • Regeneration, corneal nerve
  • Sensory nerves, cornea
  • Subbasal nerves
  • Substance P

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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  • Cite this

    Marfurt, C. F. (2010). Corneal nerves: Anatomy. In Encyclopedia of the Eye (pp. 485-492). Elsevier.